In Brian McLaren's book a Generous Orthodoxy, he "seeks to see members of other religions and non-religions not as enemies but as beloved neighbors and whenever possible, as dialogue partners and even collaborators"(35). He does not advocate syncretism but hopes to honor the beliefs of others while celebrating truth.
A few months ago I read Thich Nhat Hanh, Living Budda, Living Christ and found the book to be a great encouragement to my faith. I had been discussing "spirituality" with another friend and I appreciated his willingness to share some about his own spiritual journey. Our discussion about Buddhist philosophy sparked my interest to investigate beyond my limited experience and reading in comparative religious studies.
Thich Nhat Hanh says, "For dialogue to be fruitful, we need to live deeply our own tradition and, at the same time, listen deeply to others. Through the practice of deep looking and deep listening, we become free, able to see the beauty and values in our own and others tradition" (7).
"If we think that we monopolize the truth and we still organize a dialogue, it is not authentic. We have to believe that by engaging in dialogue with the other person, we have the possibility of making a change within ourselves, that we can become deeper.... We have to allow what is good, beautiful, and meaningful in the other's tradition to transform us" (9).
It was in the lives and dialogue with Thomas Merton, Martin Luther King, Daniel Berrigan and others that Thich Nhat Hanh saw some of what's "beautiful and meaningful" in the teachings of Christ. These teachings are living and transforming for those who embrace them and are empowered to do so by the Spirit. Thomas Merton is often spoken of as one of the most prominent Christian contemplatives of the twentieth century. He considered Thich Nhat Hanh as his spiritual brother. I have learned much from Merton and thought I would provide some quotes from his writings too.
In a book called, Seeds it says, "At the heart of Merton's spirituality is his distinction between our real and false selves. Our false selves are the identities we cultivate in order to function in society with pride and self-possession; our real selves are a deep religious mystery, known entirely only to God. The world cultivates the false self, ignores the real one, and therein lies the great irony of human existence: The more we make of ourselves, the less we actually exist."
Merton says, "Everyone of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self. This is the man that I want to be but who cannot exist, because God does not know anything about him. And to be unknown of God is altogether too much privacy" (NS, 34).